Society Magazine

Stuck in the Past

Posted on the 17 January 2014 by Brutallyhonest @Ricksteroni

Charlie Lehardy is talking about walking backwards... and the associated risks... and I'm willing to bet many of us need to be listening:

This past weekend I was watching one of the NFL playoff games — San Francisco, maybe — when late in the game a receiver caught a pass and broke free of the defense. There was nothing between him and the goal line but beautiful green grass. He tucked the ball away and ran hard, then swiveled his ISurvivedWalkingBackwardshead to see who was pursuing him… and tripped over his feet, crashing to the ground on the 30 yard line, on national TV.

I felt like I spent a lot of time over the holidays looking backwards. We all do that, to some degree. Christmas and New Year’s Eve are celebrated with heavy doses of nostalgia. We carefully repeat rituals we have practiced since we were kids, we watch old movies and sing ancient songs, and as we gather together with friends and family, our thoughts go to those who are missing because they couldn’t make it home for the holidays, or perhaps because they are no longer part of our lives.

We look backwards at such times, wistfully, perhaps thinking of better days or wishing for things that can never be again.

The word nostalgia was originally coined to describe the pain that comes from longing for home — literally home-sickness. Nostalgia in the modern sense, that certain wistfulness about the past, isn’t a sickness. I think it’s a very human emotion rooted in a deep love for familiar places and people. But like most things, nostalgia can become harmful in the extreme. We were meant to go through life facing forward, but some of us seem more comfortable walking backwards.

Paul brings this up at the end of Philippians 3:13, where he says he has left the past behind, has turned, and is now stretching forward towards the goal Christ has set before him. The key Greek verb Paul uses in that phrase “leave behind” is epilanthanomai, which means to forget, to put out of mind, or to hide something away from view. What sort of “past” was Paul thinking of, that needed to be hidden away?

We know from what is said about him in Acts that Paul gained a reputation as a zealous young man who was actively engaged in bringing Christians before the religious authorities for punishment. He later regretted his role in persecuting Christians; his about face from Christ-persecutor to Christ-follower meant severing friendships with people who now viewed him as an enemy of traditional Judaism.

We all have a past. There are embarrassing things there, painful things, regrettable things, awful things. We can’t literally forget the past, nor can we go back in time and change events we wish had never happened. But what we can do is move on. We can leave our past in the past, to use Paul’s phrase, trusting in the grace and renewal offered to us in Christ to put all of that behind us.

There's more... and I see it as tremendously helpful.

Read it... pass it on.

Thanks Charlie.


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